In the last couple of years, podcasting has gone from a niche hobby and cottage industry for a select few industry experts to a soon to be booming digital juggernaut. Smart phones make it easier than ever to listen to podcasts and the last decade or so of development have turned what was a less-produced version of talk radio into an art from in its own right.
So much so in fact that podcasts can be a powerful and effective means of promoting your business or your personal brand. Just look at recent successes like Pat Flynn with his Smart Passive Income Podcast or Entrepreneur on Fire. Both of these podcasts were started by regular Joes who wanted to make money online and quit their jobs. They talked about and interviewed experts in the field and are now drawing hundreds of thousands of listeners.
I’ve been podcasting for two years and I’ll be 100% honest – I don’t make a lot of money doing it (as in, I make no money doing it).
But I have a blast.
From the first podcast I did for my old business to the one I currently run with my buddies about board games (74 episodes and counting), I have so much fun sitting down every week and talking about the things that I already find interesting.
Editing the audio, creating a website and promoting it to that industry, in some cases to the point that I’m now considered an expert, is extremely gratifying and if it weren’t just a hobby, I’m positive it would be a profitable endeavor.
How to Create Your Own Podcast in 7 Easy Steps
All that said, if you’re wondering how to do it, I have good news – podcasting is extremely easy and doesn’t even have to cost you anything (at least to get started).
Go back and listen to the first 3-5 episodes of Board Gamers Anonymous – that’s what a brand new podcast sounds like, and yet it grew anyways and is now one of the top in that category. Doesn’t matter how you start – if the content is good, people will listen.
So, let’s take a look at what that takes and how to start creating a cast you can be proud of.
Step 1 – Choose a Topic for Your Podcast
Before you do anything else, choose a specific topic for your podcast. This does a couple of things. First, it forces you to think in terms of the questions people ask within that topic. A business podcast could cover everything from accounting to human resources to sales tactics. A podcast about inbound sales tactics in the digital age is much more specific and gives you an area to really delve into and learn more about.
The trick is to be specific enough to narrow your format but broad enough to attract a wide audience. To help in your research, go to the iTunes store and look at the podcasts currently at the top of each category. Find the category in which you want to launch yours and make sure there are podcasts with at least 20 reviews. Here’s a good example from the category where we list our board game podcast:
Plenty of reviews, and on average you only really draw one review for every 50-100 listeners, so that’s a good sign that this is a wide open category with decent listenership to tap into.
Step 2 – Outline a 60 Minute Format
A good podcast is concise, self-contained and consistent. It needs to have a beginning, middle and end, and it needs to have segments and breaks that people can rely on.
Talking randomly for two hours on your topic won’t provide the kind of bookends people need to fit your podcast into their morning commute or their daily run. Consistent format, consistent delivery date, and consistent length are all very important.
Aim for at least three “acts” for your 60 minutes with a separate 5-10 minute “banter” introduction. If you plan to do an interview-focused podcast, it might be a 2 act format, but it should still be broken down like this for ease of recording and editing.
Step 3 – Find 1-3 Co-Hosts to Join You
For discussion-focused podcasts, you want a co-host. If it’s just you talking for an hour, it may as well be a lecture series (something you can do on sites like Udemy).
For a podcast, however, the real winning formula is an ongoing conversation with a colleague. Between 2-4 people is best to keep it manageable and conversational. The sole exception to this if you plan on doing an interview series. Interview podcasts are better as one-on-one features because it allows you to really focus on the interviewee.
By the way, interviews are immensely effective for new podcasts because of the trust factor. By interviewing an expert, you instantly tap into their audience. The people they write to and who trust them will seek out your content – it’s a quick way to jump into a very competitive field if you’re just getting started.
Step 4 – Download Free Audio Editing Software
Now for the technical stuff. Even now, after 74 episodes, we still use free software to edit Board Gamers Anonymous – GarageBand on the Mac and Audacity on the PC. You can do the same or you can get Adobe CS for less than $50/month. It’s up to you what level of detail you need. Some podcasters will even publish raw, but be sure you feel comfortable doing this before you commit to an unedited format.
For equipment, the best mic on the market for the money is the Blue Yeti (here it is on Amazon). You can get it for around $90 when on sale and it’s fantastic. If you have a halfway decent mic, however, feel free to go with what you have to get started.
Step 5 – Record Your First Episode 1-3 Times
When it comes time to record your first episode, have a clear outline of what it will include. Write your show notes in advance, know who will cover what and practice a bit before you commit to the audio.
Some people will even record the first episode multiple times to get into the groove. We did just that for BGA and it still took a few weeks to get to the format we now know works. It also helps to relax the team when you know not everything you say will be broadcast to the world.
Step 6 – Bank 3 Episodes Before Launching
When you launch your podcast you’ll have a 10 week window during which you are considered “hot and new”. This window will allow you to tap into the top tier of whatever categories you list your podcast in, but only if you have enough content and push yourselves hard enough to take advantage of it. Launching with only one episode and no set recording schedule will waste that 10 week window.
So record at least three episodes in advance of your launch and then set aside a specific time and day every week (or two weeks depending on frequency) to record content so that you are launching new stuff on time at each interval.
Step 7 – Launch Your Podcast On a Sunday
When you finally launch, do it on a Sunday, preferably late Saturday night or early Sunday morning. Here’s what you should to complete that launch sequence:
- Upload Content – Choose a host like Libsyn and upload your content to the server and publish it with full show notes. Choose a category, write 200+ words for your notes, and mark whether it is Clean or not.
- Upload to a Website – Create a simple, low cost website on a domain you purchased or a free server like Squarespace or Wix and load your content there as well.
- Submit Your Podcast to iTunes – Approval for this can take between 24-72 hours. This is why you want to launch on a Sunday, so you still get as much of the coming week as possible for your content.
- Publish a Second Episode – Have your second episode in the queue and ready to push live as soon as the first one goes up on iTunes. This will boost you up the Hot and New rankings faster.
- Share with Everyone You Know – Get your episode into the hands of everyone you know and ask them all to leave an iTunes rating. Your goal is to get 5-10 iTunes ratings and reviews within the first 2 weeks of the podcast to help boost it up the rankings. You can get into the Top 10 for New podcasts for your category with as few as 50 downloads per episode. Leverage your network to make this happen.
If you do these seven things you can have a podcast up in one week and people will listen to it. The final listenership will depend a lot on the size of the audience that’s available and how competitive that space is. But by launching it in this manor and pushing a lot of content out very fast, you can take advantage of algorithms that favor newbies.
And when it’s up, start reaching out to the experts in your field who will be interested in that content, want to listen to you talk about your topic of expertise, or possibly have you on. You never know just how fast you can grow if you push hard enough.